Engagement in the political process is the core of American democracy. Despite misgivings individuals might have with President Barack Obama, the stalling by Sen. Pat Toomey and his colleagues on Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court is unprecedented in national history and prevents our judiciary from working effectively.
Irrespective of statements politicians on either side of the aisle have made in the past, they have still followed the basic process of holding public hearings for nominees. The Constitution establishes clear principles for how the Senate is to approach the nomination of a justice to the Supreme Court. The president has named a candidate to our highest court. Toomey and his colleagues now have the duty to hold hearings, deliberate and vote.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the average number of days from nomination to final Senate vote for the past 40 years has been 67 days; Garland’s has been pending for more than 200. The Supreme Court has begun a new term unable to resolve fundamental questions of law.
One can cobble together an illustration of hypocrisy by cherry-picking choice passages from prior nomination debates, but hacking away at a branch of government for partisan purposes is a disservice to our nation. If Toomey and his colleagues don’t like Garland, despite his unanimously well-qualified rating by the American Bar Association, they should hold hearings and vote against his nomination. To ignore the Constitution and hold our legal system in limbo is just plain wrong.
John Malchow, Bellefonte